The government is actively considering introducing a law to ban ‘conversion therapy’. If you haven’t heard of it, ‘conversion therapy’ is any attempt by any means to alter the behaviour or identity of anyone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
This is tricky territory for us as evangelicals. There are some extreme charismatic groups who claim to perform miraculous ‘deliverance ministries’ and dramatic healings to ‘cure’ LGBT people. That type of language is unhelpful, and makes the rest of us wince, and it may cause us to feel uncomfortable defending ‘conversion therapy’.
But be warned. The campaigners who are pushing for a ban on this don’t just have the extreme charismatics in their sights. They want to ban any church that preaches, teaches, prays, or gives pastoral counsel based upon biblical sexual ethics.
As published on our front page in this edition, campaigners say that unless your church ‘affirms’ and creates a ‘safe space’ for LGBT people, you are sailing close to the wind and risking future high-profile prosecution. That shows how this law could be used if it came into force. That may not be the government’s intention, but that’s what the campaigners want.
It is worth saying, there are strong laws which defend the religious liberty of Christian individuals and Christian churches. It is simply wrong to say any church is already ‘sailing close to the wind’. We should not be intimidated into self-censorship. That is what these campaigners want, and we shouldn’t do their job for them.
Some evangelicals have already buckled under the pressure of the culture and spoken of the need to affirm people who struggle with LGBT temptations. Yes, we must show compassion and understanding to anyone who is struggling with temptation – whatever that temptation may be – but we cannot affirm sinful desires. We must not be afraid to call a sin a sin. And we must not go soft on biblical teaching.